The Best Foods For Your Heart Health All Happen To Fall Under This 1 Diet, According To Science
Although I've dabbled in veganism, vegetarianism, and even enjoyed a brief stint of avoiding gluten, for some reason I've never taken the time to see how following the Mediterranean diet might work for my body. Honestly, that's kind of surprising, because I love olive oil and nuts — both of which are staples in this way of eating. If you've also been waiting for an excuse to eat like someone on the Italian coast, you may be interested to learn that some of the best foods for your heart health are also staples of the Mediterranean diet.
In fact, a new study investigating the effects of the Mediterranean diet on heart health, published in the medical journal JAMA Network Open, looked at data from over 25,000 women to study the connection between the two. The research found that women who eat foods that more or less coincide with the Mediterranean diet may be as much as 28 percent less likely to experience heart-related health issues, so there definitely seems to be something great about a lifestyle that prioritizes foods traditionally eaten by the ancient Greeks and Romans.
Just in case you need a refresher on what foods, exactly, make up this lifestyle, two key staples are fish and olive oil, says Cindy Dallow, PhD, RD, a sports dietitian and certified intuitive eating counselor at My Body My Life Nutrition & Fitness, LLC, and boy are they great for keeping your heart strong. "Both of these foods are rich sources of omega 3 fatty acids, which is lacking in the typical American diet," she tells Elite Daily in an email. "These types of fatty acids have been found to lower triglycerides and other blood lipids, which lowers one's risk for cardiovascular disease."
But if a diet that asks you to eat salmon all day every day sounds a little fishy, don't worry: You can definitely venture outside the seafood world and still keep your heart healthy. "Plant-based foods, such as dark, leafy green vegetables, and organic nuts, such as pecans and almonds, are high in the mineral magnesium," says Carolyn Dean, MD, ND, a health, diet, and nutrition expert and author of the book The Magnesium Miracle. Magnesium, she explains, has been shown to promote heart health, normalize blood pressure levels, and manage cholesterol, she tells Elite Daily. Honestly, this news couldn't come at a better time than pecan pie season.
Not only are so many foods included in the Mediterranean diet great for your heart health, but unlike other diets, none of the foods involved in this way of eating can have a negative impact on your heart (at least when consumed in moderation), says Christal Sczebel, a nutritionist, owner, and writer for Nutrition in the Kitch. "Red wine has been a long-known staple of the Mediterranean diet, for example, and in moderate amounts, has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease; however, if consumed in larger amounts, it can have the opposite effect and pose a risk on overall health, including heart health." In other words, as with any healthy diet, balance and moderation are key to keeping things copacetic.
While foods like leafy greens and nuts are a great part of any diet, if you're really looking for them to improve your heart health, it's best to eat them on a regular basis, says Sczebel. She recommends snacking on nuts and seeds daily, using olive oil or avocado oil regularly in your foods, and eating fresh fish like salmon, halibut, or trout two to three times per week.
So snack on your favorite nut butter, or swing by your favorite sushi place for dinner, because you'll be doing your heart (and your stomach) a huge favor.